“The city expelled us [from our lands] but the city depends on the crops from the countryside.”
– community member of ASOTRACAMPO
We send a heartfelt thank you for your support of the Tamarindo community during the devastating eviction in December. The situation remains complicated, but at least community members assured us that the eviction happened without violence. This is due, in part, to all the international support and international observation by FOR Peace Presence and the United Nations Office for Human Rights on the ground. We thank for your support!
“It’s incredible that in spite of everything the people continue their fight and retain their hope,” reflects Tom Power, a newbie FOR Peace Presence accompanier on his first visit to ASOTRACAMPO after the eviction.
Since the creation of a duty free zone of Barranquilla in 2007, the community of El Tamarindo, outside Barranquilla on the Northern Caribbean Coast, has been subjected to severe harassment, both judicial and physical, in a government attempt to evict them. The original space of 120 hectares of land, populated by 130 families, was reduced to 30 hectares, which the association of the families of El Tamarindo ASOTRACAMPO declared the Humanitarian Space El Mirador.
On October 14, 2015, ASOTRACAMPO accepted an offer from Inversiones Agropecuarias S.A.S. (the company that claims to be the owner of the land) in the presence of the National Victims Unit to formally initiate a relocation process.
Nevertheless the eviction was set for December 4, rescheduled twice and finally took place on December 9 and 10. You can watch a video (in Spanish) of it here. Eleven houses were destroyed by the Anti Riot Police and with the presence of recognized neo-paramilitaries from the area. Despite the ruling of the Constitutional Court on December 18 in favor of the community of El Tamarindo, requesting that the eviction be suspended until the Mayor’s office provided the families with temporary housing in dignified conditions, the final and complete eviction took place on December 23, 2015. Just two days before Christmas! More than 80% of ASOTRACAMPO members are victims of Colombia’s armed conflict, most of them have been displaced several times, and many families had nowhere to go.
Some families received two months of rent paid in Barranquilla and 8 families used their own resources and money offered by Inversiones Agropecuarias S.A.S. for relocation to buy a total of 9 hectares in Luruaco, 2 hours from Barranquilla on the road to Cartagena, where 12 families currently live. Without access to food and water, living in shacks, the members of ASOTRACAMPO are stuck in precarious living conditions.
The state did not have any role in the relocation process, leaving the families of ASOTRACAMPO in an extremely vulnerable position, having to directly negotiate with the company, without any government support. “We will continue to demand that the state assume its responsibility for a dignified relocation,” tells a member of the community.
A report on land issues released by Amnesty International highlighted the community of El Tamarindo as a case study. Though the government has passed laws to help with land redistribution to those who were displaced, more than 90% of the victims are still waiting for reparations (see also an article in El Espectador).
The case of El Tamarindo is a clear example of disregard for communities who are both displaced and victims of the armed conflict, despite the legal frameworks that offer them special protections and a peace process that claims to take their concerns into consideration. This just a glimpse of ongoing displacement due to economic interests, despite the peace agenda.
FOR Peace Presence continues to stand with the displaced Tamarindo community members in their ongoing struggle for a dignified relocation so they can continue their lives as subsistence farmers. We will keep you updated as the situation progresses.